February 19, 2013, 2:40 pm

We’re opening our SCALE-UP classroom today. This is a joint venture between the Library and the College of Science. It was one of the first projects that my Dean gave me upon arrival. We already have two classrooms that are computer lab-based models, but like a lot of libraries, our instructional demands are increasing and we not only needed more space—but a different type of space. The College of Science was also looking for more instructional space so it was mutually beneficial. They already have a successful SCALE-UP classroom – so this is an extension of that effort.


I had my first meeting with them in January 2012—and now thirteen months later we have a great classroom. Not quite startup speed, but it was a complex project. Many people were involved with this—from financing (thanks Provost & COS) to collection reviews and shifting. Our facilities team also kept the building open over Winter break—which was above and beyond.


The real test has been showing it to students. I walked a group through last week and the key comment way “I wish my class was in here!” And that’s the point. We’re trying to raise the bar of the classroom experience. We wanted to create an environment that is exciting but also breaks away from lecture-based pedagogy.


The gist is that from 7AM – 7PM it will function as a classroom. We will have a near 50/50 split with College of Science. After 7PM it becomes student space. That was a very important component for me because I don’t like when classrooms are locked overnight – I prefer to give as much space as possible to users.


We’re really excited about our 50% share in the teaching time of this classroom. We’ve already started talking about experiments and a number of instructors have expressed interest in bringing in their classes. It’s a great way to boost librarian engagement. SCALE-UP moves us away from showing people how to use tools and gets into deeper conversations and activities.


This collaboration-based learning model is traditionally used within the sciences, but we intend to open that more widely. I want to get a creative writing course in there to workshop their poems. A marketing class to brainstorm campaigns. A design class to work through product ideation. All this with librarians embedding into the action. And of course we can stream in events like the local TEDx program or football games. (I’ve already received a request for the Bama game in August.)


Anyway, our first class starts in an hour so hopefully all goes well. We’ll enjoy this for one day, but then it’s onward to the seven other renovation projects in the queue.


Some quick stats:

  • about 1,500 sq. feet
  • eight round tables that each seat nine students (72 total)
  • each table has a 70 inch monitor
  • whiteboard walls
  • dimming lights
  • three wireless access points (accommodates 75)
  • each table has six power outlets and three ethernet cables
  • node chairs
  • summer additions: card access to the room and Apple TV
  • future phase: mics and cameras for online learning and related activities
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